Small retirement plans cost an average 1.30 percent, while the average total cost for a large retirement plan is 1.08 percent, according to the 12th edition of the 401k Averages Book.

The study shows the small plan average investment expense is 1.24 percent, while the large plan average investment expense is 1.05 percent.

“With the DOL’s fee disclosure effective date set for April 1, knowing if your 401k plan fees are reasonable will be very important,” says Joseph Valletta, co-author of the 401k Averages Book.

The recent focus on investment expenses is well reasoned because the study finds investment expenses account for 95 percent of the small plan’s total expenses and 98 percent of the large plan. “If an employer really wants to cut their 401(k) costs they need to examine their investment related expenses,” says David Huntley, co-author of the 401k Averages Book.

The range between the high and low total plan costs on a 100 participant plan with $50,000 average account balance is .36 percent to 1.71 percent.  “With all the focus on fee disclosure and 408(b)(2) it’s important employers and their advisors compare their fees to a benchmark and understand where they fit into the range of costs in the marketplace,” Huntley said.

For the first time, the 12th Edition breaks down investment costs and identifies the revenue sharing and net investment amounts. The study finds the average revenue sharing amount on a small plan is .68 percent, while the net investment cost is .56 percent. “Fee disclosure is causing some plan sponsors and their advisors to take a more detailed look at how their investment costs are allocated,” Valletta said.